Community Agriculture Alliance: Explaining the basic concepts of an integrated water management plan


The Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable (YWG BRT) is one of nine local water policy roundtables across Colorado that work to develop local collaborative solutions to water supply challenges.

The YWG BRT has been working on an Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) for the past few years.

One of the most frequently asked questions is “explain what an IWMP is and its purpose?” “

An IWMP has been defined as “a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, to maximize the resulting economic and social well-being in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems ”.

An IWMP is based on the following three principles: social equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability. Considering these principles means answering the following questions:

• How will my decision or action affect other users’ access to water or the benefits of its use?

• Will my decision or action result in the most efficient use of available financial and water resources?

• How will my decision or action affect the functioning of natural systems?

Social equity means ensuring equal access for all to the adequate quantity and quality of water necessary to maintain human well-being. The right of all users to the benefits derived from the use of water must also be taken into account when allocating water.

The benefits may include the enjoyment of resources through recreational use or the financial benefits generated by the use of water for economic purposes.

Economic Efficiency means bringing the most benefits to as many users as possible with the financial and water resources available. This requires that the most economically efficient option be selected. Economic value is not just a matter of price – it must take into account current and future social and environmental costs and benefits.

Ecological sustainability requires that aquatic ecosystems are recognized as users and that adequate allocation be made to maintain their natural functioning. Achieving this criterion also requires that land uses and developments which have a negative impact on these systems be avoided or limited.

IWMP approaches involve the application of knowledge from various disciplines, as well as the ideas of various stakeholders to design and implement effective, equitable and sustainable solutions to water and development problems. As such, an IWMP is a comprehensive and participatory planning and implementation tool for the management and development of water resources in a way that balances social and economic needs, and that ensures the protection of ecosystems for the future generations.

The many different uses of water – for agriculture, for healthy ecosystems, for people and livelihoods – demand coordinated action. An IWMP approach is an open and flexible process, bringing together decision-makers from different sectors that have an impact on water resources and bringing all stakeholders at the table to define policies and make sound and balanced decisions in response to specific challenges. of water encountered.

This is an in-depth definition, but I hope it clarifies the definition. Clear as mud, right? To learn more about the IWMP efforts,

Gena Hinkemeyer is the Yampa River Segment Coordinator for the YWG BRT Integrated Water Management Plan.


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